[ocr errors]

ed. s) The apartments, as far as the distribution of them can be traced in the ruins, were ill-disposed, and afforded little accommodation. There was not a single window in any part of the building; and as no light could enter but by the door, all the apartments of largest dimension must either have been perfectly dark, or illuminated by some other means. But with all these, and many other imperfections that might be mentioned in their art of building, the works of the Peruvians which ftill remain, must be considered as ftupendous efforts of a people unacquainted with the use of iron, and convey to us an high idea of the power poffeffed by their ancient monarchs.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Their publick roads,

[ocr errors]

These, however," were not the noblest or most useful works of the Incas. The two great roads from Cuzco to Quito, extending in an uninterrupted stretch above five hundred leagues, are entitled

to still higher praise. The one was conducted through the interior and mountainous country, the other through the plains on the sea-coast.

From the language of admiration in which some of the early writers express their astonishment when they first

[ocr errors]


viewed those roads, and from the more pompous descriptions of later writers, who labour to support fome favourite theory concerning America, one might be led to compare this work of the Incas to the famous military ways which remain as monuments of the Roman power: but in a country where there was no tame animal except the Llama, which was never used for draught, and but little as a beast of burden, where the high roads were seldom trod by any but a human foot, no great degree of labour or art was requisite in forming them. The Peruvian roads were only fifteen feet in breadth, t) and in many places so slightly formed, that time has effaced every veftige of the course in which they ran. In the low country little more seems to have been done, than to plant trees or to fix pofts at certain intervals, in order to mark the proper route to travellers. To open a path through the mountainous country was a more arduous task. Eminences were levelled, and hollows filled up, and for the preservation of the road it was fenced with a bank of turf. At proper distances, Tambos, or storehouses, were erected for the accommodation of the Inca and , his attendants, in their progress through his dominions. From the manner in which the road was originally formed in this higher and more

: impert) Cieca , c. 60.

[ocr errors]

impervious region, it has proved more durable; and though, from the inattention of the Spaniards to every object but that of working their mines, nothing has been done towards keeping it in repair, its course may still be traced. u) Such was the celebrated road of the Incas; and even from this description, divested of every circumstance of manifest exaggeration, or of suspicious aspect, it must be considered as a striking proof of an extraordinary progress in improvement and policy. To the favage tribes of America, the ideas of facilitating communication with places at a distance had never occurred. To the Mexicans it was hardly known. Even in the most civilized countries of Europe, men had advanced far in refinement, before it became a regular object of national police to form such roads as render intercourse commodious.

[ocr errors]

and bridges.

The formation of those roads introduced another improvement in Peru equally unknown over all the rest of America. In its course from fouth to north, the road of the Incas was interfected by all the torrents which roll from the Andes towards the Western Ocean. From the rapidity of their course, as well as from the frequency and violence of their inundation,

u) Xerez, p. 189. 191. Zarate, lib. i. c. 13, 14. Vega,

Jib. ix. c. 13. Boguer Voyage, p. 105. Ulloa Easie.
tenemientos, po 365.


[ocr errors]

these were unnavigable. Some expedient, however, was to be found for passing them. The Peruvians, from their unacquaintance with the use of arches, and their inability to work in wood, could not construct bridges either of ftone or timber. But necessity, the parent of invention, fuggested a device which fupplied that defect. They formed cables of great strength, by twisting together some of the pliable withs or ofiers, with which their country abounds; fix of which they ftretched across the ftream parallel to one another, and made them faft on each side. These they bound firmly together by interweaving smaller ropes so close, as to form a compact piece of net work, which being covered with branches of trees and earth, they paffed along it with tolerable security. x) Proper persons were appointed to attend at each bridge, to keep it in repair, and to aslift paffengers. y) In the level country, where the rivers became deep and broad and still, they are passed in Balzas, or floats; in the conftruction, as well as navigation of which the ingenuity of the Peruvians appears to be far fuperior to that of any people in America. These had advanced no farther in naval Skill than the use of the paddle, or oar; the Peruvians ventured to raise a mast, and spread a fail, by means of which

y) Sancho ap. Ram. iii. 376, B. Zarate, lib. i. C. 14.

Vega, lib, iii. c. 7. 8. Herrera, dec. 5. lib. iv. C. 3, 4,

their balzas not only went nimbly before the
wind, but could veer and tack with great
celerity. 2)

Mode of refining flyer ore.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


Nor were the ingenuity and art of the Peruvians confined solely to objects of effential utility. They had made some progress in arts, which may be called elegant. They pofTeffed the precious metals in greater abundance than any people of America. They obtained gold in the same manner with the Mexicans, by searching in the channels of rivers, or washing the earth in which particles of it were contained. But in order to procure filver, they exerted no inconsiderable degree of skill and invention. They had not, indeed, attained the art of sinking a fhaft into the bowels of the earth, and penetrating to the riches concealed there; but they hollowed deep caverns on the banks of rivers and the sides of mountains, and emptied such veins as did not dip suddenly beyond their reach. In other places, where the vein lay near the surface, they dug pits to such a depth, that the person who work ed below could throw out the ore,

[ocr errors]

or hand it up in baskets. a) They had discovered the art of smelting and refining this, either by the simple application of fire, or where the ore 2) Ulloa Voy. i. 167. &c. a) Ramufio , iii, 414,







« ElőzőTovább »